11 people dead, many injured during Iran’s traditional fire festival
Eleven people were killed and more than 3,500 injured during celebrations for Iran’s traditional fire festival ahead of the Persian New Year, state media reported on Wednesday.
Last year, before the latest protests, 19 people were killed and 2,800 injured in the same period.
During the festival, participants jump over bonfires to purify themselves and ward off evil spirits, while chanting “I give you my yellow colour” (indicator of disease) and “I take your red colour” (symbol of life).
The festival is part of Iran’s pre-Islamic heritage and generally frowned upon by the Shiite clerical establishment.
Read also:Protests rock Iran over poisoning of school girls
But it is popular with young people, many of whom make their own fireworks for the event, a practice that sometimes results in injury or even death.
Iranians across the country marked the Zoroastrian holiday of “Red Wednesday” by tossing fireworks at security forces, throwing hijabs into bonfires, singing anti-government songs and chanting slogans against Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
Speaking to reporters, Head of Iran’s National Medical Emergency Organization Jafar Miadfar said 4,095 people were also wounded in the same accidents, with 278 people being hospitalized.
Out of the total number of the injured, 222 people lost a body part, he added.
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